Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Lonely Boy: A Psychological Case Study of Christopher Robin

This week I've got something a little different in store.  I went digging around some old writings of mine and stumbled across a post from an older blog that I used to write a few years ago.  I've reworked some of the wording to make it sound less like a pretentious college kid wrote it, but it is some interesting food for thought.

I have a theory that the whole Winnie the Pooh universe is actually a psychological case study. Christopher Robin (CR) is the central figure of the whole affair, and each of the Hundred Acre Wood inhabitants is actually a metaphor for some part of Christopher’s damaged psyche.  There have been a few instances on the internet recently of labeling each character as a specific disorder, but this is an attempt to unify each character as a piece of a single, disturbing image.  I present the evidence:

Winnie the Pooh - The main character and perhaps the most dominant of Robin’s neuroses. He is fat, lazy, naive, and focused only on obtaining honey. Pooh is the reptile brain, the most basic part of our brain and is concerned only with instinctual drives and self-preservation.  Since the rest of the personalities tend towards the dynamic, and even the dangerous, Pooh is a safe port in the storm. This explains his position as the main character of many stories.

Tigger – Tigger is in part of an extension of the Pooh personality. Tigger is just as basic as Pooh, but where the bear is slow and passive, the bouncing tig[g]er is active and behaves in a manner that defies any sort of outside constraint. Today, he might be diagnosed as the personification of ADHD, but another interpretation is that Tigger serves as the child’s id; raw and impatient passion that does what he wants when he wants. He is also an extension of the child’s still forming libido. If CR were a few years older, Tigger's behavior could become more violent and rapacious and would require immediate action to prevent harm to others.

Piglet – CR’s low self-worth is embodied by a diminutive pig in a sweater. Piglet is unsure of himself and lives in his grandfather’s house, clearly an indication that CR feels pressure from his family who impose unrealistic standards on the child.  This shows up as severe anxiety, possibly mitigated by the soothing softness of Piglet's sweater.  The character's stuttering may be an actual speech impediment, or it is simply another symptom of his anxiety.  The Piglet personality is unable to make decisions and values himself too little to ever try and make something of himself, leading to a cyclical self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

Eeyore – Just as Tigger is the companion personality of Pooh, so too is Eeyore to Piglet. Whereas Piglet is in a constant state of anxiety over his inability, Eeyore instead has descended into a deep depression that has reached the point of apathy. A diet of thistles and a tail that needs to be nailed back on indicates a tendency toward masochistic behavior, perhaps as a form of self-inflicted punishment as a result of poor self-esteem.

Kanga – This is the CR’s largely dormant anima, or female side. Here it is presented as a maternal figure as CR's mother is perhaps the only female influence in his life. The fact that she is a kangaroo is interesting in that her pouch allows for the juvenile Roo personality to retreat there whenever the harshness of life becomes too unbearable. It would be interesting to see how this personality develops as the child matures.  Kanga could either remain maternal or, like Tigger, become more sexualized with the onset of puberty.

Roo – Roo is perhaps CR’s emotional avatar that most resembles himself. A childish Everyman personality, he is largely the manifestation of CR’s still immature personality and desires. His friendship with Tigger is tied to a child’s innate tendency toward chaos and lack of control, yet he is helpless without the Kanga figure. As CR matures, the Roo personality should gradually become less and less prominent, indicated by Roo’s second-string status among the characters in the story.

Rabbit – This character is a more sophisticated expression of the neuroses expressed by the Piglet personality. Rabbit is an agitated perfectionist and is easily distraught by change or dominant personalities such as Tigger. The strong desire towards the status quo and disdain of extreme passion with overtones of OCD seems to show that CR is the victim of some form of abuse.

Owl – This is an interesting contradiction of a character.  The wisdom and malapropisms of Owl are the representations of CR’s shaky intellectual abilities. Although much respected by the other personalities, this is only because of their own ignorance and failure to recognize that much of the information presented is false. The constant references to relatives again hint at stress stemming from some sort of family-related pressure. Owl is CR’s main source of empowerment, but its overall lack of solid grounding will result in confidence without any skills to reinforce it.

Heffalumps and Woozles – I group these two together because they are different expressions of the same psychological themes. Unseen and mostly regarded as dangerous beasts, these two abstract creatures are perhaps the most frightening aspect of CR’s personality. This is a warped perspective on the abuse hinted at by many of the other personalities. The difference however is that the horrors of the abuse itself have been almost completely suppressed in the mind’s effort at self-preservation. Importantly, the phallic nature of the Heffalump's "trunk" and the Woozle's elongated body may hint at sexual abuse.  If the Heffalumps and Woozles were to gain control, CR would undoubtedly descend into extreme psychosis and potentially dangerous behavior, both to the child and to others.

So there you have it.  If true, Christopher Robin is a profoundly disturbed individual who requires immediate psychological treatment.  And even if it is just a fun children's book/movie, it still makes for some fun theories.  Maybe a creepypasta is next?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"SheZow" May Save The Day, But Can She Save The Hub?

I've covered a few different animated superheroes here, but none quite like SheZow. The eponymous star of a new show on The Hub, she is a superhero decked out in a pink costume, complete with a miniskirt and white go-go boots.  She has many of the usual superpowers (strength, speed, supersonic voice) as well as a collection of super-accessories like laser lipstick and hair spray that immediately fixes frizzy hair (her one weakness).  And, oh yes, her alter ego is a twelve year-old boy.

Guy Hamdon and his sister Kelly discover a magic ring that belonged to their aunt, who also masqueraded as the female crime fighter.  After accidentally putting on the ring, Guy transforms into his super form with the words, "You go, girl!"  After a bit of an adjustment period, he comes to embrace his super-self and vows to protect the city of Megadale from supervillains and other dangers,

Observant comic fans will recognize this as little more than a twisted version of Captain Marvel from DC, a Superman-like hero who dwells in the body of young Billy Batson until he says the magic word, "Shazam!"  The comparison is right there in the title.  Others however, have chosen to once again look for problems where none really exist. Conservative groups have been attacking the show as an attempt to push the transgender agenda onto young children.  These groups would have a legitimate bone to pick if not for two major things:  the show is not about transgender/cross-dressing, and it's so colossally bad that who cares if it is?

I actually like the concept.  Guy is your typical hyper-masculine kid who loathes girly stuff with the power and fury of a thousand dudebros.  To take someone like that and make him a super-feminine superhero is a great opportunity.  It's not about gender confusion, gender dysphoria, or any other element associated with the transgender movement.  It's simply a unique take on the fish-out-of-water type of storytelling.  Remember Toby Maguire when he was trying to figure out all of his new spider powers in Spider-Man? Just add in a scene where he also learns how to walk in high heels and you'll get the general gist of the concept.

You know when Happy Meals have a toy made either for boys (cars, robots, deer hunting equipment, etc.) or girls (ponies, princesses, or other pink paraphernalia)? That's pretty much The Hub in a a nutshell.  The Hasbro-owned channel is really only known for Transformers: Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Since the channel's inception, it has struggled with trying to compete with the big three of Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network.  SheZow is The Hub's latest effort to try and drum up some ratings.  Will it work?  Not likely.

While a solid enough premise, SheZow just fails to deliver on so many levels.  The art has an annoying wonky-for-the-sake-of-wonky look to it.  One basic rule of animation is to make your eyes asymmetrical to make your character look more lifelike and less like a cardboard cutout.  This does not mean to simply make one eye bigger than the other in every shot.  The Flash animation is smooth, but the bright colors and style just don't work visually.  It worked for My Little Pony, but since then, every new Hub show uses the exact same style of animation regardless of whether or not it looks good.

And the writing, dear God, the writing!  The characters are far too obnoxious to be likable and have dreadful senses of humor.  Imagine every lame gender-based trope you can, then cram it into a single show.  Remember my Peter Parker in heels joke earlier?  Well take that and make it worse.  Several jokes aren't even inherently bad, but are just so mishandled that they fail completely.  And the puns...puns everywhere.  The puns are so "she-lariously" awful that they make Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin look like Shakespeare, and this is coming from someone who laughs like an idiot at every single "Veterinarian's Hospital" sketch from The Muppet Show.

"Maybe he just needs a good pun-ch to the face!"

Maybe SheZow just needs some time to develop itself.  MLP: FiM was similarly cringe-inducing for much of its first season, but then really blossomed into a rather enjoyable series after that.  Season one of SheZow has already aired in Australia and hasn't caused too much of an uproar, so maybe it has a chance.  I do truly like the idea of a show that doesn't sit comfortably into one of the several boxes that tend to categorize programs, but if it doesn't get better, all I see is one more failed show from The Hub. Get your act together and go get it, girl!